New Delhi: There is one scene in the film D-Day where the actor, playing the role of an Indian Prime Minister, is holding a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. They are discussing a black operation in Pakistan to take out Dawood Ibrahim, India`s Most Wanted. It is a tense moment and suggestions and doubts are being expressed about how India should tackle the situation. Suddenly, the PM`s secretary comes in and whispers into the PM`s ear, "Madam is calling you". The PM jumps from his chair, the CCS meeting is terminated and off the PM rushes to meet with "Madam". The audience in the theatre bursts out laughing at the pitiable status of a PM.
The message isn`t lost on Indians. If the good doctor were seeing the film with common Indians, he would have felt somewhat uncomfortable about the unflattering portrayal. But then, our politicians don`t even do simple things like watch films with common people. The government-owned Mahadev Road Auditorium in Lutyens Delhi is hired for such purposes. Films are screened for VIPs and their friends. A careful pre-screening is done so that no films with `politically uncomfortable` scenes are presented. Disclosure: I have attended and watched several films in this auditorium. Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are not film buffs, so, they are not really seen at the auditorium, but Atal Behari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani used to hold regular screenings.
Back to the film, the Prime Minister tells the RAW (Indian intelligence) chief that as PM, he cannot authorize a black op against Pakistan but, he qualifies that it doesn`t mean that the RAW chief cannot authorize a take-out: The cloak of plausible deniability that all heads of government are given by intelligence organisations. The Machiavellian sentence, redeems the PM`s image in the minds of the audience.
In the film, D-Day, there is another scene where Dawood Ibrahim gloats to a RAW operative that if he is taken back alive to India, he would soon be on "panel on a channel" and Barkha, Rajdeep and Arnab would be "screaming their Breaking News" and increase their ratings. He even says that the way things are in India; he might even make it to the Big Boss House hosted by actor Salman Khan. There were claps and loud laughter in the theatre at this monologue by Rishi Kapoor playing the role of Dawood. It is self-deprecatory laughter, because India`s Most Wanted man is holding a mirror to us, taunting us with what India is today.
D-Day is a slickly made film, taut with tension and action sequences that sizzle. You could pick at some scenes that seem incredulous, but then, that is the artistic license that the filmmaker Nikhil Advani has taken, because he doesn`t at any stage say that the operation is about taking out Dawood. But the parallels are too many for it not to be Dawood. Is there Pakistan bashing and nationalistic jingoism? Yes, there is, but it isn`t embarrassingly so like a Sunny Deol film where one Indian armed with a hand pump bashes hundreds of Pakistanis up. It also echoes the sentiments of millions of Indians who wish that India were powerful enough to launch an Abbotabad-like operation in Karachi to take out Dawood.
Officers of the RAW and ISI, BSF and Rangers seem normal and human. They are shown having self-doubts, they argue, laugh at their predicament, and have genuine fears and anxieties. The agents are used and abused by the intelligence organisations of both countries. Some brilliant acting by Arjun Rampal, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, ably supported by the women Humra Qureshi, Shruti Haasan, Shrisvara makes D-Day into a must watch. Especially so for those who were too young to remember the Bombay blasts of 1993. See it to remind yourself that before there was Hafiz Saeed protected and encouraged by Pakistan, there was Dawood Ibrahim. India`s Most Wanted lives under state protection in Pakistan and the Indian Government has forgotten him and the mission to bring him to justice back home.
Twenty years from now, a film will probably be made about Hafiz Saeed and the Lashkar-e-Taiyba and you will have to explain to your children what the LET and the its leader did to India in Mumbai in 2008.